WNCT honors our healthcare heroes at CarolinaEast Medical Center

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NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — The doctors and nurses working with COVID-19 patients at CarolinaEast Medical Center say no matter what’s ailing their patients, they’re going to show up for work and provide the best care possible.

“You come in, you put your clothes on, you protect yourself, and you’re doing it,” said Summer Martin, a registered nurse in the Emergency Department. “I don’t think twice about it.”

Inside of the New Bern hospital, there’s a dedicated area for COVID-19 patients.

The healthcare providers working there said, at first, they were scared just like everyone else.

That’s because of how little they knew about the virus.

They’re constantly adapting to keep up with the best care for their patients because things can change in an instant.

“When you see someone who was literally working at one of the local factories in town, and now they’re in your hospital in full on acute respiratory distress syndrome on the ventilator, that really lets you know the impact of how devastating this disease is,” said Dr. Andre Frederick, a physician working with COVID patients. “It can hit you in an instant.”

“We’ve taken a lot of things for granted before all of this,” said Jessica Wenzel, a registered nurse in the COVID unit. “Just contact with family, being able to get other disciplines in here to work with other patients.”

Wenzel says the small things to make patients feel more at home, and more human, go a long way.

The staff working inside the COVID unit saw a husband and wife who were both admitted to the hospital.

They were able to get the adjoining rooms so they could see one another, hold hands, and fight the virus together.

Caring for COVID patients day to day is no easy task.

Just to go inside of a patient’s room doctors and nurses put on seven to eight different pieces of personal protective equipment. They also make sure to have everything they would need to care for the patient ahead of time, to limit the number of trips inside and outside the room.

They also take care to not bring any germs home to their loved ones.

“I strip at the door. I put everything in a bag, tie it up. I bleach wipe my shoes before I put them in the rack,” said Brandyn Slappey, a registered nurse. “Then, I put on my robe I head downstairs and I go up and shower right away.”

Slappey is describing her routine each day when she comes home from work

“At the end of it, it’s just the new norm,” said Slappey.

Frederick emphasized that even as we see the numbers stabilize, we are not out of the woods yet.

He says hand washing and maintaining social distance is still key to keeping yourself, and others, healthy.

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